Homeowners breathe a sigh of relief after Bastrop wildfire

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BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) – The Royal Pines Fire in Bastrop County is now 95 percent contained. All the roads and campsites that were closed overnight are now back open.

The Texas Forest Service previously thought 35 acres were burned Saturday evening, but have now determined it was just 25 acres. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the fire,  but do believe it originated near Highway 71.

The local fire department responded to the fire just after 5 p.m. Saturday evening. Officials with the Texas Forest Service said the local department called in state services within 30 minutes of the initial call.

“Last night when the fire was actively moving, it was moving towards residents and even into Bastrop State Park. That pushed the level of concern to very high,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Staff Forester Clay Bales.

Those living in the Royal Pines Subdivision aren’t strangers to large wildfires. In 2011 many of the homes there were destroyed, and another home in 2015 came dangerously close.

“You want to see something that will make you cry?” asked Terri Williams as she laid out pictures on her dining room table.

Williams lost her home in the 2011 fire, she isn’t sharing pictures of the ash covered ground, but rather those with large green pine trees towering over her home.

“It was just beautiful out here,” said Williams. “I absolutely loved it. If I could twitch my nose like Samantha and make the woods come back, I’d stay here.”

Unfortunately for Williams, her reality is not a sitcom. Her home is filled with smoke and the trees she once loved are gone.

“Right out here where there is all this brush, it was all growed up yesterday. You can see the trees, they was standing up nice and tall,” said Williams.

Saturday’s fire burned a good chuck of her property. “I’ve been up all night long because I obviously couldn’t go to sleep because I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.

Emergency crews said they contained the fire fairly quickly, but past fires made their job just that much more difficult.

“These old dead pines, they started exploding with radiant heat even ahead of the fire. They were just ripe to combust and they were throwing embers,” said Bales.

Crews cut out firelines around the 25 acres to stop the flames from spreading and set up a water system that would soak the property.

“We also have a bulldozer that’s in the middle working on the large snags to make sure that they are not throwing embers across the fireline,” said Bales.

Quick action from emergency crews saved all of the homes in the subdivision. However, for Williams she said her home’s going up on the market.

“It is an excellent, excellent place. I just can’t deal with all the fires,” said Williams. “I’m going to sell it.”

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